Blue Thunder gets new director

photo by Brad HornHeather Schofield, left, and Neal Keyes, right, listen to instructions at Carson High School during marching band practice.

photo by Brad HornHeather Schofield, left, and Neal Keyes, right, listen to instructions at Carson High School during marching band practice.

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Robert Brooks remembers walking into his seventh-grade band room to find a director covered in tattoos and whittling on a piece of wood.

"It took us a few days to find out what he was carving," Brooks recalled. "It was a paddle."

That was the year Brooks changed from being a goof-off in band class into a serious music student.

"Believe it or not, it was a lot of fun," he said. "I knew I liked to play because it felt good to play, but I learned my own potential. I found my rhythm."

Although he falls short of corporal punishment, Brooks applies the same dedication to his job as band director and expects the same from his students.

"It takes a lot of discipline to be in the band," he said. "You can't be mamby-pambying around. It takes dedication."

Brooks, 37, will take over this year as director of Carson High School's Blue Thunder Band after the position was left vacant when former director Larry Holloway died in December. Ryan Rothchild filled in until Brooks was hired as the full-time replacement.

Brooks grew up in Oklahoma, where he and his identical twin, Ricky, were the oldest of five brothers.

The twins decided to join the band in fifth grade because they heard students got to take the instruments home. Brooks chose the trumpet.

He later went on to play in the Drum and Bugle Corps, a nonprofit professional music organization, and in his high school band.

After graduation, he took two years off to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"As important as the drum corps was, there are some things that are even more important. Not many," Brooks said.

After his mission, he attended Brigham Young University in Idaho on a trumpet scholarship to study psychology. It didn't take long to switch his major to music education, and he completed his degree at the University of Utah.

"I always knew that whatever I did, I wanted to do something where I could influence people in a positive way," he said. "That's part of my personality. I have to share myself with other people."

He taught in the drum corps for two years and was a band director for a middle school and a high school, both in Idaho, before taking the job at Carson High.

He started the first day of a two-week band camp Monday, where he is introducing a new program for competition.

"It's a bit of a risk to try it the first year, but it's a winning show," he said. "It's for real."

He said he hopes to see the community support a strong band and for band members to be ready to work.

"I expect everybody who's in it to give 100 percent, that's all."

If You Go:

What: Band preview

When: 9 p.m. Aug. 22

Where: Carson High School football field


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